Electronic publishing for children’s books? An interview with author/illustrator Patti Gay

Patti Gay is an illustrator and author of picture books, a member of SCBWI, and one of my critique group partners. The following is an interview with Patti about her recent launch into publishing her picture books electronically.

Sylvia: Patti, you’ve jumped right into e-book publishing with a couple of your picture books. How did you decide to do that and how is it going?

Patti: I had been reading another illustrator’s blog and he had jumped into e-books at the very beginning of the transition. He is doing really well with his books. I figured this was the best way to get my books out there. The publishing industry is very tight right now understandably. They have a lot of overhead with each book they decide to publish, so the likelihood of getting picked up can be very slim. I am selling books, and find that they do better at the lower prices. Of course I would like to be selling more and am learning about marketing, so that people can find my books. As a self publisher I have to compete with big publishers putting their books up as well, but they have a higher price point. I also created a blog in the character’s of Amanda and Max with coloring pages and paper dolls that can be downloaded for kids. http://amandaandmax.blogspot.com/

Sylvia: Tell us a little about your background as an artist, illustrator and author.

Patti: I went to the Columbus College of Art and Design with a major in illustration. I worked in advertising in Columbus and New York after school. After a move to the west coast I started working as an art director for greeting cards. I was at Curtis Swann, an embossed greeting card company and at Portal Publications, a print and card company. It was good to see things from the other side of the business. I then started freelancing. I did a lot of licensing work for gift products such as bags, cards, mugs, stickers, decals, and wrap. I also illustrated a few books, CATS for Golden Books, Princess and the Pee and The Prince is a Whiz for Dove Publications, and All about Ponds and All about Plants for Evan Moore Publications.

Sylvia: I understand you have an agent for some of your work. What areas does your agent represent, and does that include your children’s books?

Patti: I do have 2 agents. One agent Ronnie Herman is for books and JMS Art Licensing LLC is for licensed properties.

Sylvia: Talk about your new line, Two Can Art. The art work is beautiful. What inspired you?

Patti: The new line, Two Can Art was inspired by my son Noah, who is autistic. He loves to paint and creates beautiful textures. I have made cards that I gave to friends and family and gift wrap from his paintings. I thought that it would be great to take those textures and scan them, then fuse them with design. It has been wonderful to be able to share in something that we both love.
I am really excited by the collection and started an e-commerce blog for giclee prints on demand with several of the images. http://twocanart.blogspot.com/

Sylvia: What would you recommend to other children’s authors and/or illustrators when it comes to publishing and marketing their work? Is electronic publishing the way to go?

Patti: I think that the publishing industry is getting turned on it’s head and is changing rapidly. It seems that more and more people are using digital devices to read from. I also think that for the generations to come this will be the norm. I think we have to open our eyes and move with those changes if we want to be part of things. For authors that are not illustrators it is important to have a professional cover, especially if you are writing MG or YA books. That is the first thing a potential reader is going to see. When choosing a title you may want to consider words that would be searched for, so that it might more easily be found.

Sylvia: Thank you Patti. The world of publishing is, as you say, changing rapidly. As authors and illustrators, whether of children’s books or any other genre, we need to stay informed and be prepared to change with it.

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